I am unashamedly a big fan of author, Gabbie Stroud. I thoroughly enjoyed her first book, Teacher and her second book A Letter to Parents should be compulsory reading for all parents, especially whilst many struggle with the challenges of home schooling, brought about by the Corona virus.
In Gabbie’s humorous and insightful way, she highlights many of the challenges facing educators today. She skillfully highlights the challenges and frustrations of teaching today. At times the behaviour of parents is counter to the work of the teacher and impacts on quality relationships that benefit the student.
The key message for parents is that they are the most important teacher their children will ever have. In her letter to parents she says, “You are their first teacher and their lifelong teacher. You. The work that I do, the work that any classroom teacher does, is secondary to the teaching that you do every single day of your child’s life.
You may not realise it , but you’ve been teaching your children for years.”
As well as the deliberate teaching that parents do, talking, walking, putting on shoes, to clap hands and blow out candles, but all of the other things parents have taught them too.
Gabbie highlights that children are always looking to parents to discover how they should BE in the world. Parents teach them through:
- The way you speak to people
- The way you respond to the chaos of your life
- The way you listen to others
- The way you approach work
- The way you spend your time
- The way you experience failure and acknowledge success”
Later in the book Gabbie shares her frustrations with NAPLAN and the impact that has had on teaching. She states “What we need is some time to think. We need to have a good long look at what’s happening in education right now and ask ourselves if it’s working. We need to think about what we want our students to know and how we should teach them. We need to think about the role of schools and the work of teachers. We need to reimagine our educational paradigm.”
I believe we have come to a tipping point in education. The paradigm that we have at the moment has been with us for the past 150 years. A class of similar aged students (empty vessels) in a room with an ‘expert’, the teacher out the front of the class and pouring out the jug that is their knowledge. This prepared students for the industrial age, but is that still relevant.
The push for schools to remain open in some states was motivated by the disruption to workers if school did not look after students. Is that really our primary purpose?
The disruption caused by Corona virus and the cancellation of 2020 NAPLAN testing provide the ideal opportunity for us to reimagine the educational paradigm we want for our children.
The changes to our system may depend on how long the disruption lasts.
If it is a month or two then my guess is that we will just go back to what we were doing.
However, if the disruption is for more than a term we may really see some soul searching and reflection.
Imagine if it was a year before school resumed.
We may also revisit many other sacred cows.
Does the school day need to be 9 to 3?
- Is 5 the right starting age?
- Is the curriculum too crowded?
- What is REALLY important?
- Are some things ESSENTIAL and others ‘nice to have’?
- How can we reinstate the status of teaching?
- The funding can of worms? State vs Federal? Return on investment? Needs based funding? Primary vs secondary?